2021 Small Business Relief Program

Purpose:

Round 2: The City of Lawrence Small Business Relief Program’s main goal is to support Lawrence businesses experiencing a substantial decline in business activity because of Covid-19 and impacted by industry specific closures mandated by the Commonwealth or the City of Lawrence (Phase 4, Phase 3 of the Commonwealth’s Reopening Plan as well as restaurants).  

The City will create a $500,000 fund to support this effort and could award a maximum of $10,000 for each qualified business location.  The actual award amounts will vary and the typical award will be less. 

Awards will be made as forgivable loans.  Loan forgiveness will occur once the awardee completes all required documentation.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Who Is Eligible to Apply?

You must meet all of the applicable eligibility requirements listed below in order to apply.  This program focuses resources to industry sectors that have been restricted most substantially by government-mandated Covid-19 closures, including sectors that have been closed throughout the pandemic.

Funds will be awarded following these three business criteria:

Criteria # 1: For profit businesses and non-profit organizations that can demonstrate close ties to gyms, theaters, event spaces, or other sectors facing government-directed closures and whose revenues have decreased by at least 50% in the past year. 

**Non-profits organizations with an operating budget of $500,000 or less who are in good standing with the state.

  • For-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations in the following sectors are eligible to apply: 
    1. Restaurants, bars, caterers.
    2. Indoor Recreation or Entertainment Establishments. 
      • Indoor entertainment establishments (e.g. Civic clubs, performing arts venues/organizations).
      • Indoor recreation (e.g. pool/billiard halls).
      • Other indoor recreation or entertainment venues.
    3. Gyms or Fitness Centers 
      • Gyms, athletic clubs, exercise centers, health clubs 
      • Sports facilities (e.g. basketball courts, swimming facilities) 
      • Fitness instruction centers (e.g. aerobics, dance, yoga, karate, etc.)
    4. Local School Transportation Providers
    5. Local Radio Programs
  • Business must be located in Lawrence, Massachusetts
  • Business must have been established prior to April 1, 2020
  • Businesses must have remained open as of December 1, 2020, temporarily closed, or would have been open on December 1, 2020 but for a state or city mandated Covid-19 related closure. 
  • Entities must be a for-profit cooperative, sole proprietor, corporation, partnership, or a non-profit organization.
  • Business must be independently-owned, a City of Lawrence location of a small chain (with 10 or fewer locations), or a Lawrence location of an independently-owned franchise where the owner owns fewer than 10 units. City staff may consider businesses that do not strictly meet this definition if it is determined that the business unit contributes substantially to the unique characteristics of Lawrence’s business ecosystem.
  • Businesses must have experienced a significant decline in business revenue as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic or the associated government-mandated business closures and restrictions.  If you don’t need help, please don’t apply.
  • Business must be in good standing with the City of Lawrence:
    1. Business must be current on all taxes due through 3/1/2020; and
    2. Have active and valid state and City licenses/registrations, if applicable 

Criteria #2: Existing for profit business in any sector established prior April 1st, 2020 that did not apply or qualify for any financial assistance:

  1.  Federal funds from the SBA such as PPP and EIDL
  2. COVID-19 relief grants administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC),
  3. CDBG funding and/or the City of Lawrence Small Business Relief Grant. 
  • Businesses must have experienced a significant decline in business revenue as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic or the associated government-mandated business closures and restrictions.  If you don’t need help, please don’t apply.
  • Business must be in good standing with the City of Lawrence:
    1. Business must be current on all taxes due through 3/1/2020; and
    2. Have active and valid state and City licenses/registrations, if applicable 

Criteria #3: New businesses that were in the process to open/register business prior to March 15, 2020 and were delayed due to the state mandated closures.  Any business that opened its doors between March 15 2020 and December 1, 2020 could apply.

  • Business has not qualified for any federal, state or city provided help. 
  • Supporting documentation:
    1. Signed Lease agreement, 
    2. Commonwealth of Massachusetts Business Registration or City of Lawrence DBA Certificate. 
    3. Purchase and Sale agreement (In case of business transfer)
  • Businesses must have experienced a significant decline in business revenue as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic or the associated government-mandated business closures and restrictions.  If you don’t need help, please don’t apply.

Application Submission Instructions

Your application must be filled out and submitted along with attachments electronically through the City of  Lawrence online application portal (Citizenserve).

https://www.citizenserve.com/lawrence

Hard copies or electronic copies submitted in any other way, such as mailed in or emailed, will not be considered. Additionally, only complete, accurate and legible applications will be considered.  

Please be advised that applications must include all required documentation in order to be considered.

Award Process

The City of Lawrence Economic Development staff and Mill Cities Community Investment will review all applications to determine eligibility and the amount of the award.  Applicants will be contacted by email when an award is made, if more information is needed or if the application is rejected.   

  • Staff will make every effort to review applications within 15 business days following submittal.  Due to an expected heavy volume of applications, this time period may be extended.

Compliance with City Funds, Laws and Regulations

Applicants must comply with all applicable laws.

Amount of Funding

Businesses may be awarded up to $10,000.  The final award amount may be adjusted to reflect the degree to which the business location has been impacted financially from Covid-19 and the ability for the business to document reimbursable expenses.    

Businesses will be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in 2020 during the pandemic.  Only expenses incurred since April 1, 2020 will be considered. 

Awards will be made as forgivable loans.  Loan forgiveness will occur once the awardee completes all required documentation.

Funds will be disbursed in a onetime payment to the business owner  

Allow City to collect income and demographic data from applicants and their employees

Through partner organizations will provide grant recipients with training is areas such as accounting, marketing, technology integration, etc. which should be completed within two years of receiving the funds

Approved Use of Funds

  • Employee payroll and benefit costs
  • Mortgage interest
  • Rent
  • Utilities and interest on other debt obligations
  • Marketing and Advertisement subject to review and approval of the City of Lawrence 

Business’s proposed uses of the funds granted in response to this application will be used only to cover those costs that are eligible expenses under section 601 of the Social Security Act, as added by section 5001 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136, div. A, Title V (Mar. 27, 2020) (“section 601”). 

Business will not apply the funds granted in response to this application to any expense that has been or will be covered by any other source of federal or state funding including, but not limited to, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Sector Specific Grant Program, Paycheck Protection Program loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, awards from previous rounds of City Covid-19 Small Business Relief Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), or any other source of federal or state aid. 

Business will collect and retain sufficient documentation to demonstrate that the expenses delineated in this application were incurred within the eligibility limits and established for the Program. 

Documentation includes, but is not limited to, receipts, invoices, purchase orders, contracts, contemporaneous memoranda, or other relevant materials. These materials must be stored in an easily accessible and searchable format, in business control, and in compliance with document retention best practices. This documentation will be maintained in compliance with applicable federal, state, and municipal law to support internal and external audits of these obligations and expenditures. The City of Lawrence reserves the right to request this documentation or other audit evidence at a future date. 

The City of Lawrence reserves the right to require Business to report on incurred expenses and/or outcomes in a form prescribed by the City at a later time.

Non-Approved Use of Funds

  • Major equipment purchases
  • Purchase of real property
  • Construction activities
  • Business expansion
  • Lobbying.   

Also, grantees must prevent the duplication of benefits, which means these grant funds may not be used to pay expenses if another source of financial aid has paid that same expense.

 

For More Information

Any questions or clarifications about your application or the Program can be submitted by email with a subject line of “Round 2 Business Application Inquiry” 

Mill Cities Community Investments: 

Aaron Lackman, Commercial Services Manager.  aaron.lackman@mccinvest.org   

City of Lawrence:  business@cityoflawrence.com